The novel suggests that both ways of approaching life are flawed.
The lieutenant cannot see that his zealous idealism may well create as much harm as it does good (a danger to which the history of political revolutions in the twentieth century gives ample testimony.) In trying to stamp out religion, the lieutenant’s approach ignores the deep longing people have for a transcendental reality.
Politics and Religion Like a number of Graham Greene novels, The Power and the Glory deals with the interaction of politics and religion.
In this case, there is utter hostility between the two.
The priest, who has endured pain, anxiety, and guilt for years, recognizes in his suffering the purposeful presence of God’s love: “It might even look like—hate.
It would be enough to scare us—God’s love.” This philosophic insight is hard won.At least in part, this is what the lieutenant believes.He looks on the earth as a “dying, cooling world, of human beings who had evolved from animals for no purpose at all” (Part I, Chapter 2).The episode with the dog abandoned by the Fellows, in which the dog and the priest struggle over a bone, shows life reduced to its essentials, the struggle for survival.This is not a pretty world—everything in it is in pain or want of some kind.Are the characters connecting through the dialogue, understanding each other, listening to each other? This novel contains a few important scenes of mistaken recognition. What would you say about communication in this novel in general? Most notably, the lieutenant fails to recognize the priest in two face-to-face encounters. The theme of the hunted man establishes an exciting and nightmarish atmosphere to this novel and makes it a thriller.Greene has, moreover, created characters who are at once human and symbolic.The priest is keenly aware of his weakness and failure as a man and as a priest. An alcoholic, a scandalous priest with an illegitimate child, a man terrified of pain and death, he harbors no illusions about himself.